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Steve Cropper has jumped into the legal dispute over royalties over recordings made prior to 1972. The legendary Memphis guitarist, songwriter and producer tells Rolling Stone that streaming service Pandora "[makes it] obvious they want to show disrespect for past artists and writers. They've got it all wrong."
The legal battle -- similar to one launched by Turtles founders Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman against satellite radio provider Sirius XM -- involves a loophole in federal copyright laws that Pandora is using to avoid paying royalties on recordings made before February 15th, 1972. Cropper calls the inconsistent regulation "an accouting nightmare."
Attorney Steve Marks, who represents the Recording Industry Association of America, says Pandora and Sirius XM currently pay for Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," which was released in 1975, but not "Immigrant Song," which came out in 1970. He says, "These artists should be fairly compensated by a service like Pandora that's profiting from the use."
There is a lot of money at stake here. Last year, Pandora and Sirius XM paid most of the $656 million in performance royalties administered through Sound Exchange.